Release of Chromium from Orthopaedic Arthroplasties

G.A. Afolaranmi1, J Tettey1, R.M.D Meek*, 2, M.H Grant3
1 Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences
2 Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Southern General Hospital, Glasgow, UK
3 Bioengineering Unit, University of Strathclyde, UK

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2008 Bentham Science Publishers Ltd.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( which permits unrestrictive use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Southern General Hospital, Glasgow, UK; E-mail:


Many orthopaedic implants are composed of alloys containing chromium. Of particular relevance is the increasing number of Cobalt Chromium bearing arthroplasies being inserted into young patients with osteoarthritis. Such implants will release chromium ions. These patients will be exposed to the released chromium for over 50 years in some cases. The subsequent chromium ion metabolism and redistribution in fluid and tissue compartments is complex. In addition, the potential biological effects of chromium are also controversial, including DNA and chromosomal damage, reduction in CD8 lymphocyte levels and possible hypersensitivity reactions (ALVAL). The establishment of these issues and the measurement of chromium in biological fluids is the subject of this review.